Music continues to be the one constant unfazed by this pandemic. Assuming the role of in-house therapists, artists continue to find creative ways to release content & music to restless quarantined people (like myself) all over the world. Taking our minds off the chaos of the world, Drake is back with his shadowy “Dark Lane Demo Tapes” project.
Released Friday (May 1) as a surprise, Dark Lane Demo Tapes holds 14 songs, runs for 50 minutes, and recruits a spectrum of artists such as Playboi Carti, Young Thug, Future, Chris Brown, Fivio, Sosa Greek, and more. The ghastly album arrives as Drake’s first official release since dropping the nostalgic Care Package in 2019. It is also Drake’s first full-length release since 2018’s Scorpion. DLDT acts as preview to Drizzy’s official 6th studio album set to release this Summer (prayerfully we have one to enjoy this)! While several leaks have swirled around on social media for months, Drake makes sure to assure listeners that they’re plenty more “new vibes” to suffice us.
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My brothers @oliverelkhatib @ovonoel put together alot of the songs people have been asking for (some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and some new vibes) DARK LANE DEMO TAPES out everywhere at midnight…also my 6th STUDIO ALBUM DROPPING SUMMER 2020!!! Lucky number 6 ? soon fwd
As the plane takes off, Drake readies listeners with project’s opener, the Scorpion throwaway, “Deep Pockets.” As usual, Drake sets a cinematic atmosphere as the hazy track begins. Keeping up with the times, Drake flows on topics ranging from his early childhood to women, to his former days of scamming and pyramid schemes.
“Before I’d ever hit the road and feel like the home team
Pyramid schemes just like the Egyptians
Back when hotlines were still flippin’
Now I’m seein’ money off of hotlines blingin’ but it feels different.”
As a compilation of unused Drake “loosies,” DLDT lines the layers of Drake up very well. As listeners begin the journey, they are immediately greeted by Drake, the rapper. Sampling Hov’s iconic, “Song Cry,” Drake unleashes the beast on “When To Say When.” Very transparent and conversational, Drizzy reflects about life (usually when we get the best Drake).
“Thirty-three years, I gave that to the game
Thirty-three mil’, I’ll save that for the rain
Five hundred weeks, I’ll fill the charts with my pain
Five hundred mil’ and I’ll fall back in the 6ix
Finally give you n*ggas the space you need to exist.”
Transitioning straight to “Chicago Freestyle,” Drake, the rapper gets even more comfortable at home. Drizzy maintains a thoughtful spirit looking back at his life, his rise to the top, and the lessons learned from previous relationships and experiences. Giveon provides an emotional appeal on the chorus over the Noel Cadastre / Sevn Thomas-produced beat. Drake, the singer makes his first appearance on the moody, “Not You Too.” While the track “features” Chris Brown, If you were expecting the same energy seen on “No Guidance,” you’ll be heavily disappointed. Only offering mere whispers and background vocals, Breezy is nearly undetectable at some points of the song (you could spot Casper quicker). However, Drake puts the entire song on his back. Taking listeners back to the times of So Far Gone vibes, Drizzy wears his heart on his sleeve as he belts out his pain over being betrayed by a woman.
“Why you do that little sh*t to me, shawty?
When you know that we was meant to be
Why’d you keep those things from me, my love? (Love)
I’ve given you enough time.”
Letting his listeners know he is in touch with the today’s times, we reach the project’s top mainstream single, “Toosie Slide.” Utilizing Tik Tok and a somewhat catchy dance sequence, “Toosie Slide” is catchy. It does not hold much lyrical stimulation (if any), but it really is fun to play… and dance to. It shows Drake still having fun with his music and making the most out of the free time this quarantine has given us. On the leaked “Desires,” The Boy and Mr. Future Hendrix link up yet again with a vibe. With a sensation reminiscent of WATTBA’s “Diamond Dancing,” Drake and Future call out this woman who has done them dirty. They each remind this woman of various things they’ve each done for her (mostly monetary) before anyone else.
The first half of the album ends with the muzzy OZ-produced, “Time Flies.” Drake is usually his best when he flows about relationships. “Time Flies” exhibits a theme of reconciliation in the late text message-appealing track. Lonely and filled with regret, Drizzy pulls up to his partner’s home in hope of getting to the root of their issues.
“Feel like I’ve been going through too much to explain to you
But I’m still the same way I was when I came to you
Everything I have, what I had to exchange for you
Everything I’ve been through, I can’t even complain to you
Wish it stayed the same for you, sorry.”
DLDT’s second half dials Drake the rapper up and takes the heat up a notch. Straight out the gate, Drake brings out the luxury pen as he talks his sh*t about his wealth and various brands he enjoys on a regular on “Landed.” “If I gotta land, I’ma stick it / Baby, let it go and you gon’ miss it / Wrote this with a Cartier pen, do I sound different?,” he brags. The next couple songs highlight some of Drake’s notable features. “D4L” calls on Atlanta’s finest trap artists, Young Thug and Future as they blaze through Southside’s bass-rattling beat. On the underwhelming “Pain 1993,” Drake adapts the… “unique” sound that is Playboi Carti and outdoes him with pure ease over Pi’erre Bourne’s spacey production. Using a cringeworthy baby voice, Carti’s bars are very forgettable and unnecessary as he flexes about his wealth and luxury brands.
As we reach the tape’s end, here is where Drake’s pen reaches untouchable heights. On “Losses,” notably one of the top standout tracks on DLDT, Drake executes flawlessly, rapping about a relationship that essentially ran its course into the dirt. The beginning, middle, and ending of the song are both built from a quarantined Instagram Live session between both Drake and his father. Radiating both Take Care & NWTS sensations, “Losses” possesses such chilling soulful, classic quality. It is easily one of my favorites of the entire mixtape. He reflects on various factors that has caused the relationship to cease, and ends saying, “I’m not tryna make no song, these are cold facts.”
Another favorite immediately follows with “From Florida With Love.” Produced by 40 and MexikoDro, Drake gets into his plugg-talk bag. On the smooth track, Drake delivers excellent storytelling recounting his first meeting with the late NBA Lakers Legend, Kobe Bryant. He references his mentor, Lil Wayne and pays homage to the late Static Major continuing his narrative of meeting Kobe and listening to Tha Carter III with him. He looks back at not being able to even reminisce that moment now that Kobe is gone.
“Writin’ this from Florida with love (Love)
When I linked with Mexiko, I knew I found a plug (Dro)
Rest in peace to Static, yellin’ “Shawty want a thug,” ayy
Bottles in the club, ayy, know she wanna f**k (Ayy)
Weezy played that sh*t for me and Kobe on the bus
We ain’t even get to reminiscin’ what it was (Yeah).”
DLDT’s final two tracks display an adaptive Drake taking sounds that aren’t his and bending them to his whim for the better. On the final collaboration of the project, Drizzy, Fivio Foreign, & Sosa Greek get deep in their Brooklyn drill bag on “Demons.” Sosa and Fivio are in their element, as they deliver hard-hitting bars over the sinister production. Here, Drake brings forth his UK accent as he shows love to Fivio and Sosa.
On “War,” the tape’s final song, Drake again uses his UK accent rapping over London producer, AXL Beats’ chilling drill production. On the previously released track, Drake again looks back on his come up, his on-again, off-again relationship with fellow Canadian artist, “The Weeknd,” and more. Testing the waters in the delivery, he pushes his boundaries, but don’t be mistaken, his pen remains sharp (even though I’m not a fan of UK Drake).
Overall, Dark Lane Demo Tapes shows Drake just having fun. Only he could have a collection of throwaway tracks and they all appeal in various ways (listen to IYRTITL). DLDT shows us that not only is mixtape Drake great, but that the flow is still just as strong as it’s ever been and that Drake is only in competition with himself. He has nothing left to prove (unless he’s trying to outdo himself). The tape definitely is a great appetizer as we prepare for his 6th album. DLDT is nearly without error, emotionally vulnerable, and enjoyable. I give it a 8/10
Top 5 Songs From DLDT:
- From Florida With Love
- When To Say When
- Not You Too
- Chicago Freestyle